Work has begun to tidy up a Heston churchyard containing WW1 graves just a few days after complaints were made.

Hounslow Council has blamed a problem with its contractors Carillion for why St Leonard's Church cemetery was in such a poor state on the eve of the First World War centenary commemorations.

Getwestlondon reported on Tuesday (5) how Heston Central councillor Surinder Purewal and his Labour colleague councillor Elizabeth Hughes had been shocked and saddened by the state of the commonwealth war graves when they visited on Sunday (3).

As well as overgrown grass and weeds, many of the graves have been damaged by weather or vandals and there was evidence of late-night drinking and other anti-social activities taking place on a regular basis.

Mr Purewal, who was only elected for the first time in May, had vowed to find what had happened to the grant given by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to the council to maintain the site.

However, in response to our story, a spokeswoman for the council said: "We are sorry for the poor state of the grounds. This was due to an oversight by our contractors on the scheduling of maintenance work. Maintenance teams are now on site tidying it up."

Councillors Surinder Purewal and Elizabeth Hughes stand with some of the war graves inside St Leonard's Church in Heston
 

In response Mr Purewal said: "I am very pleased to hear the earlier publicity has got such a quick reaction.

"It proves the money is there and I hope now they will stay on top of the maintenance programme and that there will be no repeat of the scenes we saw on Sunday.

"It took a long time for the graves to get into that state which suggests nothing had been done there for some time.

"As for the matter of vandals getting in at night and people drinking and making litter this is obviously hard to police as it is an open site.

"I intend to speak with the church staff about how we can prevent as much as possible in future.

"We owe it to the memory of the dead soldiers to keep the place looking respectable and I'm very much looking forward to seeing it restored for myself."

Money was also recently made available by the council to improve pathways at all local cemeteries and the spokeswoman confirmed work to repair St Leonard's paths would also be starting soon.